How Do I Determine if My Child is a Division I, II, or III Athlete?
I like to consider a number of factors when discussing the differences in divisions. It is important to remember that coaches have their own personal preferences as to what they see as being important attributes of their athletes. This is why it is important to scour the rosters of the college programs that your child shows interest in. This gives you a very good idea of the patterns that a particular coach may have in regards to recruiting athletes. The physical characteristics and technical abilities that are looked for in an athlete will vary based on who you are asking, as one coach's opinion can be very different from another's.
I remind the families that I work with to still hold true to the statement of "Bigger, Faster, Stronger." These three adjectives are used not only to describe physical characteristics of an athlete such as their height, weight, or direct speed - but to also describe a player's game. The pace as to which a player distributes a ball, how physically strong a player appears on the field, and how "big" they play, (this is perhaps my favorite way to describe an athlete), as being "big" doesn't necessarily mean they are exceptionally tall - it has everything to do with presence. A player's intensity, sense of urgency, and force can make a player appear much bigger in size than they really are. There are exceptions, but this is most often true. This is why it is of the utmost importance that when your child is entering the 8th grade, he or she is playing at the most competitive level possible. The league that your child's club team is competing in at this time matters. In fact, I believe the competition level of your child's club team will matter from here on out. We want your child's game to be as big as possible.
There are many different leagues and opportunities offered at the club soccer level. The higher the level of competition that your child is exposed to, the higher the likelihood that they will have the opportunity to play at a higher level in college. I also like to point out that the higher the level of competition that your child is playing in will directly equal more exposure. The better teams will be admitted to better showcases and tournaments. The better showcases and tournaments will typically attract higher level coaches. There are exceptions, but this is what I have seen as the norm. This does not mean that college soccer isn't in your future, if what I am describing is not your child's current club soccer situation. I am just trying to give you an idea of the type of athlete that will be looking at these soccer programs, and the type of soccer programs that will looking at these athletes. Typically, Division I soccer is very physical, very fast paced, and very technical. I want to remind you that the quality of a conference directly impacts the quality of a program, so be well-versed in the conference of your target school.
Pre-Covid, there were 32 conferences in NCAA DI Women's soccer and 25 in NCAA DI Men's soccer. There were 23 conferences in both NCAA DII Men's and Women's soccer and a whopping 48 and 49 conferences in NCAA DIII Men's and Women's soccer, respectively. When finding a school that offers academic interests, find out what conference they play in. What are the other schools also competing in that conference? Where did this particular school rank in their conference last season? Did this soccer program experience a recent coaching staff turnover? The answers to these questions can help you understand the needs of the school and its soccer program. There is a difference in a soccer program's recruiting needs if a team has reoccurring winning seasons, reoccurring losing seasons, or changes in staff.
For more information on the recruiting process, please visit https://www.academysoccerconsulting.com/college-recruitment-mentoring